Amnesty International, joining other human rights groups, says Israel is ‘committing the crime of apartheid’

  • 2-02-2022, 10:30
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    INA-  sources

    Amnesty International accused Israel of “committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians” in a report released Tuesday, echoing a growing consensus among leading human rights groups and drawing a fierce rebuke from Israel’s government, which lambasted the finding and called for its withdrawal after lobbying to block its release.
    London-based Amnesty International said Israel’s “system of oppression and domination against the Palestinian people,” both in the occupied Palestinian territories and within its internationally recognized borders, fit the legal definition of apartheid and constituted “a crime against humanity.”
    Israel is committing the crime of apartheid, new report says
    “Whether they live in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, or Israel itself, Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights,” Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard said in a statement.
    Citing Israel’s “policies of segregation, dispossession and exclusion” toward Palestinians, Callamard said that “the international community has a responsibility to act.”
    The Israeli government has rejected the label of apartheid and comparisons to South Africa’s system of racial segregation that ended in 1994. The report does not draw that parallel directly — the crime of apartheid under international law is a universal term, codified by the International Criminal Court, used to describe particular efforts to impose and maintain systematic racial oppression.
    “Israel isn’t perfect, but we are a democracy committed to international law, open to criticism, with a free press and a strong and independent judicial system,” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement Monday ahead of the release of the report, which he labeled as “false, biased and anti-Semitic.”
    Lapid called Amnesty International “just another radical organization which echoes propaganda” and “echoes the same lies shared by terrorist organizations.”
    The 278-page report, four years in the making, follows similar legal assessments published over the past year by New York-based Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem, Israel’s leading human rights group. The Israeli government rejected both conclusions.
    Israel expelled the local director of Human Rights Watch from the country in 2019 over allegations that he supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which is illegal under Israeli law. The group condemned the move as part of the state’s escalating assault on freedom of speech and human rights work.
    Palestinians have long used the language of apartheid to describe Israel’s system of governance since the country’s founding following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, during which some 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes, and the military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in 1967.
    Hopes for a two-state resolution to the decades-long conflict rose following the 1993 Oslo peace accords, when Palestinians received limited self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip under plans for long-term Palestinian sovereignty. But in the years since, amid continued violence and the growth of Israeli settlements, facts on the ground have dramatically changed and, many experts say, upended the two-state paradigm.
    Instead, the Amnesty report — and the Israeli government’s efforts to silence it — reflect a growing shift away from framing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a national religious clash over land and instead to a civil-rights-based struggle for equality within the same territory.
    Israel and its supporters reject this frame as denying a historical right to a Jewish state and safe haven for Jews.
    Amnesty International said its conclusions came from analyzing international conventions, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which defines apartheid as “an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group.”
    In recent years, amid a stalled peace process, Palestinians have doubled down on efforts to gain recognition in international bodies and to use these channels to lobby complaints and charges against Israel.
    Israeli officials have long accused the United Nations and related agencies of being overly focused on and biased against Israel.
    Last March, the International Criminal Court launched a probe into alleged Israeli crimes in the occupied territories. Other investigations are underway into alleged abuses by both sides in the May war between Israel and the militant group Hamas, during which over 250 Palestinians in Gaza and 13 residents of Israel were killed.